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Profile: Pamela Prosperi, team lead for emulators and simulators at Sauce Labs

How to succeed in tech: Sauce Labs’ Pamela Prosperi gives her tips

Gabriela Motroc
diversity
© Shutterstock /Lamina2014

Women are underrepresented in the tech sector —myth or reality? Last year, we launched a diversity series aimed at bringing the most inspirational and powerful women in the tech scene to your attention. Today, we’d like you to meet Pamela Prosperi, team lead for emulators and simulators at Sauce Labs.

A research study by The National Center for Women & Information Technology showed that “gender diversity has specific benefits in technology settings,” which could explain why tech companies have started to invest in initiatives that aim to boost the number of female applicants, recruit them in a more effective way, retain them for longer, and give them the opportunity to advance. But is it enough?

Last year, we launched a diversity series aimed at bringing the most inspirational and powerful women in the tech scene to your attention. Today, we’d like you to meet Pamela Prosperi, team lead for emulators and simulators at Sauce Labs.

Pamela Prosperi, team lead for emulators and simulators at Sauce Labs

Pamela Prosperi has been working at Sauce Labs for over 4 years, she’s a senior software engineer and is also the lead of the emulators and simulators project. 2 out of those 4 years she was working remotely from Rosario, Argentina where she’s originally from before moving to Sauce’s Vancouver office in 2016.

She studied system’s engineering in Argentina but started her career as a developer being a freelancer in 2005, working on creating local websites while still in university. She then moved over the mobile world in 2010 writing hybrid apps using tools like Phonegap, once she started working with mobile devices she never looked back and went on to writing native apps, mostly for Android devices.

What got you interested in technology?

Growing up in Rosario, Argentina, I wasn’t surrounded by a lot of technology. It wasn’t until I was in the last few years of elementary school that we got a computer at home. Although I wasn’t allowed to use it much (except for a few old 5 ¼ disk games), I was very interested in what it could do. With time I started noticing its potential and asked a teacher to teach me more about it. By the time I finished high school, I knew there was a lot more to learn, and a lot more to technology than just our first computer so I decided to pursue a system’s engineering degree to start my academic journey into technology.

My career began in my fourth year of university when I started working as a backend PHP developer for a local company. Not long after, that I transitioned into a mobile developer role and realized that’s where my passion lived.

A few years passed and I had built enough apps to realize I wanted even more, so I decided to leave the Argentinean software industry to join the big players in California. With this motivation in mind, I came across Sauce Labs and I joined their mobile team.

In 2016, I started leading the team in charge of emulators and simulators. Moving from real devices to virtual devices allowed me to transition into a DevOps role and learn more about how virtual systems work. This same year I also moved from Argentina to Vancouver so I was able to work more closely with the team and help grow the local Vancouver team.

Leading a team turned out to be significantly more satisfying than I thought. Helping people in accomplishing their goals has been, and still is something that I wanted to pursue. This passion for leadership and mentoring helped me to transition into a managerial role and am currently supporting the team from a different perspective.

Obstacles and role models

There were many obstacles to get to where I am today. The biggest one was being in a corner of the world where it’s very hard to succeed, and where my native language wasn’t used by the big software companies, but I managed to get myself out there, never stayed in my comfort zone for too long, and always looked for new challenges.

I am grateful that my family and friends were always very supportive of my decisions and moves throughout my career. When it comes to role models, there isn’t really anyone that I closely follow and admire, but there are many people I do look up to. I find it encouraging to see more and more people supporting women in their pursuit to keep learning and advancing in their professional careers.

A strong support system

I was fortunate enough to have very supportive people throughout my career, however, one early academic experience comes to mind: I once had a professor who questioned my capabilities by assuming that a project I submitted was not my own. They doubted that a female-only team could have produced such quality work and almost prevented us from submitting our final thesis. Fortunately for me, this did not hinder my learning and growing, but instead encouraged me to push through with more tenacity to prove myself.

A day in Pamela’s life

I’ve now been at Sauce Labs for more than four years and am currently a few months into a new position as an engineering manager of the emulators and simulators team. This role brings a whole new set of challenges for me but still keeps me very close to the technology. I have new responsibilities such as regular 1-1s within the team and they are teaching me how to deal more with the human aspects, soft skills, and improving people’s abilities. I am also involved in technical discussions with management and other teams to help define the scope of projects, as well as product prioritization and planning.

In 2014, I traveled to San Francisco and spent three months putting myself out there, interviewing intensely for many of the well-known tech companies in an attempt to get a position where I could truly demonstrate my passion for technology. Looking back I’d say I’m most proud of these three months pushing myself outside of my comfort zone to grow as a professional.

Why aren’t there more women in tech?

Traditionally, there has been an under-representation of women in tech, but fortunately, I think that gap is starting to narrow down and now we are seeing more diversity. I think there are several factors at play, such as misconceptions from past generations about the role of women in the workforce and society. I am happy to see newer generations breaking this mold, helping to redefine and shift the role and capabilities of women. We should keep encouraging young women to choose their paths and careers freely without any of these misconceptions that society can sometimes try to impose.

I think we are already seeing benefits and results from the current [diversity] dialogue. That being said, diversity is a crucial discussion that should be on-going and nurtured so we can capitalize on ideas and maximize the progress, and representation for every group.

Women in STEM

I believe more women in STEM would have a positive impact. Diversity across all fields benefits everyone and is a sign of a healthy and inclusive environment. Socially, women would have a greater representation which would help to remove the limiting beliefs around the role and potential of women. This would ultimately lead to more women in the workforce, helping to balance household finances, improving the overall economy. Perhaps most importantly, this would help to culturally enhance the entire society.

Challenges women in tech face

There are still some work environments and people who struggle with the idea that a woman can succeed, lead, or offer significant contributions. This challenge can be particularly difficult to overcome when these biases are subconscious, as the person or group may not always be aware of them.

I grew up in a society that can be sexist, at the beginning of my career I had to work through uncomfortable situations in work environments where I had to listen to conversations that talked down women that were working with me, and potential hires not happening because of the applicants’ gender. Unfortunately, I had to keep silent about it if I wanted to keep my job. I’m sure these sort of situations happen to a lot of women all over the world, and in the long term they make you stronger, eventually learn to not stay quiet. If I were to go through a similar situation nowadays I wouldn’t turn the blind eye, I would speak up.

It is not uncommon for women to experience this in their careers but, it’s important to learn how to fight for themselves and other women.

Tips & tricks

This industry has been historically less inclusive of women, however, that is starting to change. Women in tech are now more empowered and better recognized. However, female professionals wanting a career in tech should understand that this shift is on-going and will continue to take time.

At the same time though, as an underrepresented group, they should never be afraid to speak up, participate, and contribute their ideas and thoughts.

Don’t miss our Women in Tech profiles:

Author
Gabriela Motroc
Gabriela Motroc is editor of JAXenter.com and JAX Magazine. Before working at Software & Support Media Group, she studied International Communication Management at the Hague University of Applied Sciences.